I purchased a automotive this summer time so I might drive and discover the states round Colorado. And first on my want listing was a Western Montana highway journey. I hadn’t been to Montana since I used to be 11 years previous when my dad and mom and I did a highway journey from Illinois to Oregon and again.
All I bear in mind from that journey was being frightened of encountering a bear in Glacier Nationwide Park and consuming solely cheeseburgers for the complete two weeks.
These had been the times of with the ability to eat countless cheeseburgers…
I believe it was about time for me to see Montana with grownup eyes now alone highway journey from Denver.
I’m nonetheless terrified of assembly a bear on a path, however I’ve developed my culinary pursuits previous cheeseburgers as of late. In truth, I used to be fairly excited to drive by means of Western Montana’s small cities, see the mountain surroundings, have a couple of out of doors adventures, discover the distilleries, and benefit from the farmers markets and native cafes. And I might do all of this from my new highway tripping automotive!
If you consider Montana, What involves Thoughts?
Cheeseburgers? Bears? Fly Fishing? Brad Pitt? (okay – perhaps that’s simply me…) Glacier Nationwide Park?
I believe for most individuals Glacier Nationwide Park is likely one of the huge attracts to Montana; particularly this summer time because the pandemic lingered on. Sure, the park is beautiful, nevertheless the wonder doesn’t cease on the park exit…it’s throughout Western Montana. Nature has no boundaries and the Nationwide Parks don’t have the one magnificence and funky issues to do.
So when everyone seems to be headed to Montana to go to Glacier Nationwide Park in file numbers, I’ve some strategies of the place you may go that’s outdoors of the park however simply as enjoyable, stunning, and cultural (most likely extra so) than simply Glacier.
Why Discover Past Glacier Nationwide Park?
My first reply is as a result of exploration is cool. Main is cool. And discovering your individual new experiences are extra impactful.
Lewis and Clark in Montana
Lewis and Clark famously traversed Montana not as soon as, however twice, in order a technique to honor them, I got down to actually discover past the Nationwide Park in western Montana. I took the mindset of somebody who’s main a workforce of explorers who’re about to step into the nice unknown!
I do know – many individuals don’t just like the unknown – however I thrive on it. In truth, I’m all the time enthusiastic about encountering the unknown as a result of I usually suppose that I can discover a place higher than what others have discovered.
And on this Western Montana highway journey…I did.
Now you get to reap the advantages of my discoveries! I’ve cut up them into the classes of Consuming, Consuming, and Being Curious. Similar to Lewis and Clark, I’ve created a map of my route, the place I stayed, and given you an concept of what I liked and why…and what to avoid!
Western Montana Highway Journey – Eat, Drink, and Be Curious
Despite the fact that I drove from Denver (a 2 day leisurely drive), I mainly began this journey from Missoula. It’s a brilliant leaping off level for Western Montana. You can even fly into Missoula and hire a automotive.
Renting a Automotive
I’ve constantly discovered the very best rental automotive costs on RentalCars.com (worldwide and at residence) and use them when I’ve to hire a automotive. They work with the entire main automotive corporations; try their costs and see what you suppose. I additionally love their cancellation insurance policies which are simple to search out and perceive – a should in these instances!
I stayed in Missoula attending to know this superior faculty city for two nights. The attractive factor about Missoula is that it’s really easy to get out to nature – in reality you’re surrounded by it! We used the elegant AC Lodge in Missoula as a hub for 2 nights whereas we went rafting and mountaineering – only a quick drive outdoors town. Then we got here again at night time and loved the entire meals, drink, and nightlife. We even went to a live performance there on the historic Wilma theater.
From there we went West – out to expertise the mountainous landscapes. Nonetheless, we had one drawback – wildfires.
Explorers Need to Be Versatile
One of many first guidelines of being an explorer is to be prepared for something – and to be versatile while you encounter it. It is a trait of any good traveler – and Mom Nature put us to the take a look at. Wildfires had been burning round Western Montana so we needed to make a couple of modifications to our plans, however due to that we found different enjoyable issues like vintage shops and a extremely cool jail museum! We didn’t get to do as a lot mountaineering or panorama pictures as I usually would have, however I nonetheless had an unimaginable journey!
Every morning earlier than hitting the highway we’d test the most recent information on the wildfires after which should presumably reroute a bit. Don’t let issues like this ‘break your trip’ – simply roll with it and see the place it leads you. That is a part of being a accountable traveler. In truth, Western Montana really has Accountable journey tourism tips that vary from campfire upkeep, to parking, to quick altering climate, and even the place to take and methods to tag selfies!
Be taught extra concerning the Glacier Nation Tourism Pledge
Western Montana Highway Journey Map
Click on on the field within the higher left nook to get data on lodging, eating places and experiences alongside the route.
As you may see, I really did go to Glacier Nationwide Park, however I attempted to stay to the less-visited Many Glacier space. Whereas everybody was vying to get into the Going to the Solar Highway, we went to a unique space that required no reservation and was completely stunning.
As well as, we had been additionally capable of expertise the Indigenious tradition of the realm – it was my spotlight of the journey to have the ability to join with the land and the folks on this distinctive means.
Consuming my means By Western Montana
Meals wonderful meals! It’s one in all my favourite issues about taking a trip. Due to suggestions from locals I had some unimaginable meals on the highway journey. Right here had been a few of my favourite experiences.
Indigikitchen – Babb Montana
The Glacier Nationwide Park vacationer market has been historically centered on the west facet. Nonetheless, I found the east facet of Glacier and was launched to a a lot much less crowded space in addition to Mariah Gladstone of Indigikitchen.
Indigikitchen was shaped to foster an appreciation and love of conventional Native meals. The title is a mixture of Indigenous, digital, and kitchen — Mariah creates quick video cooking tutorials on Youtube for recipes that use pre-contact substances.
However as journey begins to open up once more, Mariah is engaged on a brand new expertise that may give guests a greater grasp on the panorama; a foraging and cooking class primarily based on indigenous meals.
Her objective is to supply folks a meal product of native substances, particularly issues that they’ll have an element in foraging and harvesting, thereby ‘immersing themselves within the panorama’. It’s a means to take a look at the small components of the panorama relatively than taking a look at a glacier or mountains. As a substitute, guests can actually have a look at a glacier as berries, and flowers as flavors.
We began by strolling round her yard choosing sarvis berries. The pinkish purple berries had been bursting with taste – I couldn’t imagine that I hadn’t heard of them earlier than contemplating their prevalence within the space. She taught me concerning the totally different native vegetation and the way they had been historically used for culinary and medicinal functions.
We had iced cedar tea with maple syrup and stuffed peppers. Mariah cooked up floor elk that was harvested up on Chief Mountain and blended that with wild rice from Pink Lake. I liked the concept she knew the place the meat and rice got here from, one thing we by no means actually know once we eat at a restaurant. For desert I helped with forming cookies from floor up sunflower seeds and maple syrup. We topped our ‘cookies’ with the freshly foraged pink sarvis berries all mashed up.
Not solely do you get an schooling concerning the land, the Blackfeet folks, a beautiful meal, however you additionally get to satisfy Mariah. She’s one in all these particular individuals who brings the entire space to life. She grew up right here and her life and tradition are woven into the landscapes. As well as, she has labored as a park ranger and is aware of the areas inside and outdoors the park rather well – so it’s a great way to get some tremendous mountaineering recommendation too! It’s a really particular expertise.
To do that expertise, go to Mariah’s web site and make contact with her and request it.
Minnie’s Café – Thompson Falls Montana
The little city of Thompson Falls has one of many largest cinnamon rolls I’ve ever seen! Made recent each morning, Minnie’s Café is understood for this big plate of cinnamon-y goodness. It’s additionally recognized for its genuine small city America really feel and hospitality. Minne’s is what small cities are product of – nice homecooked meals, and a gathering place for locals.
Sit on the previous counter and order issues like meatloaf, roast beef with gravy, and malts. I chatted with some locals about what to do within the space and requested the standing of the close by wildfires. Then got here my big cinnamon roll with ice cream scoop of butter on the facet! I had by no means seen a facet of butter served with a cinnamon roll…however oh my…it’s value it.
I counsel you exit of your technique to expertise Minnie’s if it’s a must to! Simply test their Fb web page to verify they’re open. They run out each day so I counsel you go early and go famished.
Harwood Home – Paradise Montana
Wish to deal with yo’self in your roadtrip? Then be sure to cease at Harwood Home. Effective eating meets rustic cabin life by the river – an ideal mixture to expertise Montana’s western tradition. Harwood Home in Paradise, MT is part of the historic Quinn’s Sizzling Springs Resort. It’s recognized for his or her intensive wine listing and their surf and turf choices.
I made a decision to attempt the very best of each worlds – smoked trout for an appetizer and Montana prime rib for my important. A scrumptious and decadent meal – no surprise why the realm is called Paradise.
It’s good to have reservations, you may make them right here.
Field Automotive Bistro – Missoula Montana
There’s a ton of nice eating places in Missoula, nevertheless if you’re on the lookout for a particular upscale meal – cease at Field Automotive Bistro. Positioned within the newly developed Outdated Sawmill District. This small intimate eating expertise makes you’re feeling as if you happen to’ve walked right into a 1920’s glamour-filled French bistro.
They’re recognized for his or her French dishes, seafood, and steaks…hiya escargot! They usually have a superb wine menu. See their whole menu right here.
Sufficient fancy stuff…let’s discuss huckleberries. This juicy, candy berry appears to be Montana’s state fruit. In every single place you drive you’ll see indicators for huckleberry pancakes, jam, syrup, ice cream, pie, mustard, and beer. You higher attempt some else can you actually say that you just’ve been to Montana?
Lodge at Trout Creek
This isn’t a restaurant, however it’s a kitchen – the place you may cook dinner for your self. There comes a time in a highway journey the place you’re sick of consuming out on a regular basis. Generally you simply need management over your meals for a little bit of a break. That’s the place Trout Creek Lodge involves the rescue. If you happen to keep at this pretty lodge (extra on that beneath), you’ll have entry to your very personal kitchen downstairs. It has every little thing you want, and you’ll even use their grill!
Simply bear in mind to cease at a close-by market and choose up meals to cook dinner!
Lodge at Trout Creek Web site
Consuming My Manner By Western Montana
A woman will get thirsty driving on a regular basis! Truly, I do have a love of native beers and spirits – and it was all the time good to finish a day of driving on the native watering gap. It’s an effective way to essentially get to know some locals, get recommendation on the place to go, and simply be taught concerning the space.
Montgomery Distillery – Missoula
This family-owned distillery has Montana roots. They’re one of many few distilleries I’ve ever recognized to not solely distill, but additionally develop and harvest their very own grains from their 250 acre household farm. This farm-to-glass technique begins in central Montana the place the grain is farmed, is distilled within the basement of the bar in Missoula, and ends within the tasting room/bar upstairs.
Not solely are the spirits for consuming – however Ryan, one of many founders, discovered a technique to mix his love for distilled spirits and bikes. In 2018 he custom-made a motorbike to run on vodka byproduct and raced it down the Bonneville Salt Flats setting a land velocity file.
They make the standard spirits; vodka, gin, rye, and whiskey. They usually additionally make some fairly non-traditional spirits; Aquavit (Scandinavia) and Kirschwasser (German). All of this comes collectively in an unimaginable cocktail listing at their tasting room. An enormous constructing with comfy classic couches and chairs filled with locals is all the time a welcome place for a weary highway tripper!
Take a tour, do a tasting, and luxuriate in a cocktail
Lavender Lemonade – Lakeside Montana
Debbie handed me a small mason jar of lavender lemonade with a paper straw. Despite the fact that this was lavender lemonade, it was a pink in coloration and had a few huckleberries floating in it among the many ice. This refreshing drink wasn’t constituted of a powder – it was made with actual lavender that was grown by Debbie on her lavender farm.
July is harvest season for lavender and Debbie’s area of 1500 vegetation was attractive and fragrant! We met Debbie at her farm excessive above Flathead lake the place she educated us about lavender and her quest to make the world extra stunning. Debbie is a retired 2nd grade trainer who received her lavender farm inspiration from a college e-book she was studying to her class. The e-book was a couple of girl who needed to make the world extra stunning by spreading lupine seeds all through the Northeast. Debbie determined she would make the world extra stunning (and aromatic) by planting lavender.
She transforms the lavender into culinary, ornamental, and private care merchandise which are bought within the barn store on web site. Plus, in July she holds Lavender themed dinners (that all the time promote out) throughout which a neighborhood chef creates a multi-course farm-to-table dinner that includes merchandise from native farms and a unique number of lavender in every course. If you’re highway tripping by means of in July – be certain to join one of many Lavender dinners!
Go go to her, have some lemonade and get a tour of the farm by appointment! It’ll brighten your day!
Create Artwork Bar – Missoula
Whereas in Missoula we occurred throughout this cool new (to me) idea known as the CREATE Artwork Bar. It’s an everyday bar (with unimaginable cocktails) and a makers studio. So if you’re the kind that has their creativity enhance when you’ve a cocktail…you might simply discover your internal Piccaso!
They’ve numerous initiatives you may select to make, they supply the entire instruments, directions, and occasional assist – and you’re off and creating! We had a lot enjoyable making our leather-based bag tags and koozies…and consuming cocktails!
Be Curious in Western Montana
I worth curiosity – particularly in relation to journey. For me it by no means appears to be satiated – and it’s what retains me touring. My curiosity led us to so many attention-grabbing experiences alongside our Western Montana highway journey – and these had been a few of my favorites.
Ross Creek Cedars
I am keen on timber – not solely do timber communicate to one another, however I really feel like generally they communicate to me, so I used to be fairly excited once we got here throughout the Ross Creek Cedars. The Ross Creek Cedar Grove is a hidden gem in Western Montana. With just one little signal on the highway- you actually should be on the lookout for it to see it! After a winding drive on a one lane highway, you’ll come to this little oasis of cedar timber amongst a panorama of Ponderosa Pines. We walked the path that led by means of these huge stunning timber and loved each quiet, reflective second of it!
Convey a picnic lunch with you and eat it at one of many picnic tables beneath the tall cedars. And be at liberty to hug as many timber as you’d like! I used to be even capable of crawl inside of 1 for a very totally different perspective.
They’ve a cedar Grove in Glacier Nationwide Park too; nevertheless, Ross Creek Cedars is way much less visited and also you’ll virtually have the Grove to your self. All the magnificence and not one of the chaos.
Why on the planet would you go to a library as a part of your Western Montana highway journey? As a result of the brand new Missoula Public Library is extremely cool, and it has a number of the greatest views of town!
The newly opened library is nothing just like the library I bear in mind as a child – the structure and design is open, welcoming, and intelligent. The constructing décor and design is supposed to characterize the Western Montana panorama beginning on the first flooring with the river, and rising up like a mountain on the 4th flooring. They’ve an important espresso store, a makers studio, a cooking/demo kitchen, and a wonderful patio with a stellar view on the highest flooring.
Plus, they promote used books there too – so if you happen to forgot a e-book to your highway journey, cease by and choose up some nice reads!
Nationwide Bison Vary – Dixon Montana
If you wish to be a kind of ‘Sunday drivers’ inching alongside gawking on the views, then cease on the Nationwide Bison Vary. Drive by means of the panorama at any tempo you’d like, stopping to benefit from the views. The principally dust highway that traverses by means of the vary will not be closely trafficked and everyone seems to be there to take their time and see bison and different wildlife. There’s a herd of 400 bison residing on this on the land managed by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
Viewing wildlife is unpredictable – and despite the fact that there have been 400 of them, we solely noticed a few bison close to the highway we had been driving on. It’s hit and miss on if you will note the wild herd near the highway, however there’s one assure – you will note unimaginable views.
It was a wonderful, winding drive by means of the grasslands and rolling hills of this preserved land. You climb to a excessive spot on switchbacks to get a view of the encircling mountain ranges. Then look down on the plush valley beneath shaped by glacial lakes that crammed and drained quite a few instances.
This an effective way to see wildlife and be taught concerning the Native American tribes and their relationship with the land.
Thompson Falls Jail Museum
Thompson Falls Montana is the place we began to should put our flexibility to the take a look at. Wildfires within the space had been forcing us to vary our itinerary a bit. As a substitute of doing a giant hike within the surrounding forest, we determined to remain inside Thompson Falls and do some strolling round city, go to a museum, and go to the island park throughout the Excessive Bridge. Flexibility is vital while you journey – and it could lead you to some unimaginable finds!
Initially working because the county jail, sheriff’s workplace AND sheriff’s residence, the Thompson Falls Jail Museum now deal with preserving Sanders County historical past, historic artifacts, photographs and maps. Oh my – this was one enjoyable and surpising cease! The previous constructing had totally different displays along with the jail artifacts.
Whereas we had been there they’d a 1920’s trend exhibit on the primary flooring. The principle flooring is the place the Sheriff’s household lived. The Sheriff’s spouse even cooked the entire meals for the inmates…who had been housed upstairs.
You may see the entire previous cells/bunks upstairs together with previous log books telling the tales of drunken disorderly nights, petty theft, and extra.
Being versatile paid off in Thompson Falls!
Kootenaie Falls and Bridge
This scenic space close to Libby Montana was most likely the worst hit from wildfires within the area. In truth, it was the smokiest atmosphere we got here throughout on our journey. Nonetheless, we had been nonetheless capable of hike to the falls and the bridge, but I needed to think about how spectacular the views would have been with out the smoke.
No matter smoke – you may stroll over the 210 foot swinging bridge that sits 100 toes above the roaring river. The Kootenai Falls Swinging Bridge affords some unimaginable views of the Kootenai River gorge immediately beneath Kootenai Falls. It was constructed by the Forest Service to entry forest fires throughout the Kootenai River, however anybody can cross it and benefit from the views!⠀
I really like worldwide journey as a result of – it exposes me to totally different cultures. Nonetheless, you don’t all the time have to go in another country to search out totally different cultures.Wwe went to the Libby Rodeo and located an entire western tradition that was utterly international to us!
Montana is ranching nation, and there are a variety of rodeos that journey across the space. From the occasions, to the gang, to the announcers, and even the distributors – it was all international to me. We had a good time giving our Yee-Haw for the extremely courageous rivals.
At any time when you’ve an opportunity on a highway journey to go to a neighborhood occasion – do it!
Get extra details about rodeos across the area right here.
White Water Rafting
After I consider Montana, one of many first issues that involves thoughts is rivers. Throughout our whole highway journey we adopted meandering rivers. They’re nice to take a look at, however why not get a better perspective and go white water rafting!
We rafted down the Clark Fork River with Montana River Guides! The river is a mixture of class 2 & 3 rapids and is the right combine of untamed trip and enjoyable float! We did the total day journey simply 40 minutes from Missoula.
Many Glacier Area
Lastly, We did spend somewhat time within the lesser-visited space of Glacier Nationwide Park. You don’t want a reservation to get into the Many Glacier area on the East Facet of the park. Nonetheless, you do want a automotive that may take the actually tough highway that’s beneath development for about 10 miles. Perhaps that’s what retains the crowds away from this facet of the park. Or perhaps it’s simply that EVERYONE needs to do the Going to the Solar Highway they usually don’t hassle with the opposite areas of the park.
After strolling round and photographing the jaw dropping Many Glacier Lodge, we rented a canoe for an hour and set out on the lake surrounded by towering mountains! Constructed by the Nice Northern Railway in 1914-15, Many Glacier Lodge is located on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake inside Glacier Nationwide Park. It was designed like a Swiss mountain chalet and it does really feel such as you’ve in some way been transported to the Swiss Alps. It’s value it to go inside and go searching, then sit out on the massive deck and benefit from the view.
There are additionally quite a lot of hikes on this space too. Sadly we didn’t have time to do them – however canoeing across the lake was an important various.
The place to Keep on This Western Montana Highway Journey
Quinns Sizzling Springs Resort
Quinn’s Sizzling Springs Resort is an establishment in Western Montana. These newly reworked scorching springs have unimaginable views and tons of historical past. They resort was began within the late 1800’s and nonetheless is a favourite cease as we speak with guests close to Paradise, Montana.
We spent the night time and loved a soak of their new swimming pools together with a chilly water plunge. Good for after a day of journey within the space! And it’s not simply concerning the scorching springs. The riverbank is dotted with little cabins providing you with that true Montana vibe! I stored wanting (extra like hoping) on the river anticipating to see Robert Redford and Brad Pitt on the market fly fishing…
Learn Evaluations of Quinns Sizzling Springs Resort on Journey Advisor
Lodge at Trout Creek
One among my favourite locations we stayed was The Lodge at Trout Creek. This secluded house is a mattress and breakfast that may be a place to loosen up and benefit from the view…and the unimaginable breakfasts. (This was my first style of the well-known Montana huckleberries!). The breakfast actually was excessive; fruit, yogurt, muffins, espresso cake, eggs/meat – all lovingly made by Julie.
They’ve 5 suites in the home, and you’ve got entry to the complete home to simply sit and loosen up in numerous rooms. You’ll be pampered in luxurious whereas surrounded by nature. And if you’re a porch lover like me – then you may be in porch heaven! Along with the porches surrounding the home, they’d a theater room, and loads of rooms with fireplaces to sit down and actually expertise that Montana vibe.
Learn Journey Advisor opinions of the Lodge at Trout Creek
AC Lodge Missoula
The most recent addition to the Missoula lodge scene. This upscale enterprise lodge is greater than only a place to sleep. They’ve a wonderful bar within the foyer serving up craft cocktails and a European fashion breakfast within the mornings. The rooms are fashionable and it’s situated proper on Important Road strolling distance to eating places and retailers.
Plus – I discovered that they’ve the one generator in downtown Missoula! We had a blackout one of many nights we had been there and it was most likely one in all my favourite nights in Missoula. The AC bar crammed up and it was a enjoyable technique to take pleasure in a blackout!
Learn Journey Advisor Evaluations of the AC Lodge
Evergreen Lodge – Libby Montana
This small single story lodge in Libby was filled with classic allure. Taking me again to the times of highway journeys with my household. The Evergreen lodge was brightened up with tons of hanging flower baskets and colourful landscaping. The rooms had been reworked a couple of years in the past they usually had been very comfy. Your complete lodge had a Schitt’s Creek Rosebud vibe to it! An ideal small city discover!
Learn Evaluations of Evergreen Lodge on Journey Advisor
Don’t Overlook to Convey This Highway Journey Gear
Right here’s my Journey Playlist that I really like on Spotify to maintain you in that travelin’ temper!
Are you prepared…let’s go eat, drink, and be curious in Western Montana! Let me know what new belongings you uncover!
I used to be a visitor of Glacier Nation Tourism throughout this highway journey, nevertheless all opinions expressed listed here are my very own.
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